FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) for April, as reported in the June Shippers Update, improved to a -11.9 reading from the previous month’s record low of -17.8. Lower fuel costs and weaker freight volume were the key changes, offsetting tough utilization and rates. Conditions for shippers are forecast to improve but remain negative into 2022.
“Shippers conditions improved in April, but are likely to remain decently negative through the balance of the year as utilization, rates, and overall transportation capacity remain tight,” noted Todd Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at FTR. “While April reflected some improvement, it is important to put that gain in the context of March’s record negative result. So while things improved in April, they did so from an incredibly weak level, meaning conditions remain highly challenged for shippers in the marketplace across all modes.”
The June issue of FTR’s Shippers Update, published June 7, provided a detailed analysis of the factors affecting the March Shippers Conditions Index and provides the forecast for this index through April of 2022. Included in this month’s report is discussion on how unemployment benefits might be contributing to disappointing driver hiring levels.
The Shippers Conditions Index tracks the changes representing four major conditions in the U.S. full-load freight market. These conditions are: freight demand, freight rates, fleet capacity, and fuel price. The individual metrics are combined into a single index that tracks the market conditions that influence the shippers’ freight transport environment. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. A negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. The index tells you the industry’s health at a glance.